Knowing what activities have risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also known as STDs) can help you decide what kinds of sex you want to have, how you’re going to reduce risk, and when you should get tested. Testing is important because many STIs don’t have any symptoms.
An STI can spread from one person to another in a few different ways. Some STIs are spread through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Others spread through skin-to-skin contact in activities like dry humping and kissing. It’s also important to know that one partner needs to have an STI for the other partner to get it. Many people also worry about STIs when there’s very little chance they have them.
How do you get an STI?
You can get an STI from oral, vaginal, and anal sex without a condom or dental dam. Your risk depends on the type of STI you’re worried about and the kinds of sex you’re having.
Bacterial infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia are some of the most common. Anal, vaginal, and oral sex without a condom or dental dam have a high risk of passing on bacterial infections.
The risk of viruses that spread from skin to skin (like HPV and herpes) are also a high risk for all of these types of sex.
Other viruses like HIV or Hepatitis C transfer to the bloodstream from injections or mucus membranes like the vagina, penis, or anus. There is a lower risk of transmission from oral sex.
And parasitic infections like crabs are mostly from contact between private parts. Using condoms or dental dams is the best way to reduce your risk of STIs. However, there is still a chance you can get an STI even if you use barriers.
Are there risks of STIs if I use a condom?
There is still some risks of STIs even if you use a condom or dental dam. Condoms and dental dams lower the risk for viruses that are spread through skin-to-skin contact, like HPV (genital warts) and herpes. But there is still a chance they can spread through the parts of your genitals that aren’t covered.
There’s also a risk the condom or dam will break. You can look at the steps for using a condom and see what you can do to make breaking less likely. If it does break, you will notice, and you can get tested after.
Can I get an STI from a toilet seat?
No. You can’t get an STI from a toilet seat. Your skin on your butt and thighs prevents bacteria and viruses from getting into your body. And even if someone else did get blood, semen, or vaginal fluids on the toilet seat, most STI bacteria and viruses die quickly when exposed to the air.
Can I get an STI with my clothes on?
There’s no real risks of STIs from touching someone through their clothes. STIs move through direct contact with someone’s genitals, blood, or sexual fluids. Some others also spread through skin-to-skin contact without sex.
Parasitic STIs like crabs (pubic lice) and scabies can also spread when someone touches the clothing, underwear, or towels of someone who has them. Common symptoms are itching and inflammation. Both are easily curable, and you just need to ask a pharmacist for the right shampoo or cream.
Can I get an STI from kissing?
It’s possible to get a some STIs from kissing, but the risk is low. There’s a risk of herpes, especially if someone has an open sore on their mouth or they feel a tingling that means one is coming. There’s a small risk for STIs that can live in your throat, like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
However, it’s possible to get other infections from kissing, like the flu, a cold, mono, or strep throat. So when one partner isn’t feeling too great, it might be a good idea to wait until both of you feel better.
Can I get an STI through naked contact but no sex?
There some risks of STIs by touching someone without clothes on, even if you don’t have sex. Rubbing private parts like vaginas, penises, or anuses together is sometimes called frottage or dry humping. It has a risk for STIs that are spread through skin or fluids. This is considered a moderate to high risk.
The risk is higher if someone ejaculates or there’s a lot of other bodily fluids. There’s also a risk for pregnancy if semen gets on the opening to a vagina. You can lower lower your risk for pregnancy and STIs by wearing underwear or using condoms, even if there’s no penetration.
There’s a low risk from masturbating each other, but it’s higher if one of you has cuts or sores or you touch your vagina, penis, or anus right after. You can lower this risk by using disposable gloves and washing your hands right after.
Also know that naked contact can easily heat up and turn into other kinds of sex! You can lower your risk and be prepared by using condoms, dental dams, and other tools.
Can I get an STI from masturbating?
An STI needs to spread from one person to another. So if you’re masturbating and your only sex partner is yourself, there’s no way to get an STI. You can still get an STI from another person if you use a sex toy that they’ve used. It’s also possible to spread a bacterial infection from one part of your body to another when you masturbate.
To lower the risk any kind of infection, you can wash your hands and clean any toys before you get started! It can also help to put a new condom, dental dam, or glove on your toys or hands when you move to a different body part.